Created By: Latisha Thomas on 06/23/2011 at 11:05 AM
Category: Ethics Advisory Opinions
June 21, 2011
Mr. Lon Dickerson, Director
Jefferson Parish Library
4747 West Napoleon Avenue
Metairie, LA 70001
Re: Ethics Board Docket No. 2011-859
Dear Mr. Dickerson:
The Louisiana Board of Ethics, at its June 17, 2011 meeting, considered your request for an advisory opinion regarding whether Friends of Jefferson Parish Public Library (FRIENDS) may continue to provide scholarships to library staff attending graduate schools based on a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between the Jefferson Parish Library and FRIENDS. You stated that FRIENDS is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) corporation whose public purpose is to support Jefferson Parish Department of Library through solicitation of funding, community support, and contributions, all for the specific purpose of assisting and enhancing the Library system.
The CEA with the FRIENDS contains the following provision:
"The Library may accept funds from the FRIENDS to provide scholarships for LIBRARY staff who are attending graduate schools accredited by the American Library Association as per criteria determined by the Director of Jefferson Parish Library."
The procedure in place requires the staff member to make an application to FRIENDS before the semester begins to obtain approval. After completion of the course(s) final grades are sent to the FRIENDS by the college or university. For staff with passing grades, FRIENDS provide a monetary scholarship to the library for these staff members. The library then passes along this monetary scholarship to the staff member by way of a check for the amount received from FRIENDS.
The Board concluded, and instructed me to advise you that the Code of Governmental Ethics will prohibit FRIENDS from continuing to provide scholarships to library staff based on the Cooperative Endeavor Agreement between FRIENDS and the Library.
Section 1115A(1) of the Code prohibits a public servant from soliciting or accepting any thing of economic value, directly or indirectly, from a person that has or is seeking to obtain contractual or other business or financial relationships with the public servant’s agency. Prohibited sources are persons that have or are seeking to have a business, financial, or contractual relationship with the public agency;
Mr. Lon Dickerson
June 21, 2011
Ethics Board Docket No. 2011-859
persons regulated by the public agency; or persons that have a substantial economic interest which can be substantially affected by the performance of the employee’s duties. Based upon the contractual relationship between FRIENDS and the Library, FRIENDS is a prohibited source. Further, staff members of the Library are required to make an application to FRIENDS to receive the scholarship in question. This is clearly a solicitation of a thing of economic value by a public servant. As a result of this solicitation the cooperative endeavor agreement between FRIENDS and the Library is a violation of the Code of Governmental Ethics.
This advisory opinion is based solely on the facts as set forth herein. Changes to the facts presented may result in a different application of the provisions of the Code of Ethics. The Board issues no opinion as to past conduct or laws other than Code of Governmental Ethics. If you have any questions, please contact me at (225) 219-5600 or (800) 842-6630.
LOUISIANA BOARD OF ETHICS
Brent E. Durham
For the Board